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‘I will make Lesotho great again’



Motsamaisi oa tšebeletso, ke kopa hore u ntumelle ke qale ka tsela ena:
Moruuuooooo! Moruuuooooo!! Pele feela uena! Pele feela uena!! Ke nako!
Ke nako!!

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

For many days, I went around this country, asking you to elect my party into government. Today, I address you with a deep sense of gratitude and humility to accept the baton as the Tenth Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho. For me, this address represents a social contract in which I promise to make Lesotho great again.

My remarks this morning form the basis for holding accountable the Government of Lesotho under my leadership. This follows the authority to govern, bestowed upon me by the people of this Kingdom, on the 7th of October, 2022, when they voted in large numbers for my Party, the RFP. The people have spoken. However, I must hasten to say, I am fully aware of the profound nature and deep seriousness of this responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly.

But then, I thank The Almighty God, for I know that His Grace is sufficient for me; and that His power and blessings will multiply in my weakness.

I shall not fear, for he will always hold my hand and give me all the guidance I need.

Sechaba se heso, ke eme mona kapel’a lona kajeno ho amohela thomo ea lona, eo le ileng la mpha eona ka menoana ea lona ka la supa khoeling ena e holimo.

Ke ne ke ile ka qala ka letšolo la “Mamela Sechaba”, moo ke neng ke pota naha ena ea rona; ho mamela mathata le maikutlo a lona. Ke ne ke re ho lona, “Bua Morena; Mohlanka oa hau o mametse.”

Ha ke re ke ’ona mantsoe a neng a buuoe ke Samuel ao? Ha ke se ke le mametse, ’me ke le utloile, eaba ke boetse ke pota hape ka molaetsa o mocha o reng “Ntate, roma ’na ho ea pholosa sechaba sa hau.” Kajeno, ha ke eme mona kapel’a lona, ke bina sefela se secha. Ke re, “Ebe Jesu oa ka u n’u mpone joang na?” ’Me ruri nke ke ka tšoha bobe leha bo le bong hobane O na le ’na.


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Recent research shows that Lesotho’s macroeconomic position has been deteriorating since 2015. Our economy has been in recession since 2017.

Lesotho’s public spending has increased over the last few years, and has reached 65% of GDP in this financial year.

Today 86% of Lesotho’s national budget is absorbed by government consumption, particularly public wages that are estimated at 32% of our GDP.

Public procurement, which is roughly 35 percent of GDP, is key in determining the effectiveness of government in delivering essential services, programmes and projects; but it is arguably the worst managed .

Government’s income depends quite heavily on revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), which are declining. In 2022/23 they are expected to decline by 22% of GDP.
Our economy is driven by government spending, which itself depends on debt-financed public investments.

The inability of the private sector to play its part in creating employment has led to a situation in which the public sector has become a critical source of employment for our people.

Yet, as indicated above, the public sector itself does not have a dependable income, a situation which is likely to get worse, going forward. Sadly, even the high spending in the public sector has not translated into satisfactory performance and high productivity. Ours is, all in all, a very unsustainable model of economic growth.

Additionally, the manner in which we spend the meagre resources that we have, also leaves a lot to be desired.

Our capital budget is a tiny 27% of the total budget, compared to the whopping 73% in the recurrent budget. In real numbers Lesotho spends only M6.7 billion a year on its development agenda, and M18 billion on consumption, largely wages. This is not a good investment model.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It would be remiss of me if I did not mention the importance of climate change, and the risks which it poses for Lesotho’s economic growth efforts. Lesotho is highly exposed to climate change hazards; including droughts, floods, storms, strong winds, heavy snowfall, and severe frost.

Floods from extreme rainfall in Lesotho occur relatively frequently; and they adversely impact the population, economic activity, and the environment. Existing climate hazards pose substantial risk to water infrastructure and service delivery.

Climate change will further stress our water reserves, which as you know, is one of Lesotho’s most valuable resources, contributing no less than 8 to 10 percent to our GDP. Predictably, this will destabilise farming systems, decrease agricultural productivity and raise the level of food insecurity for thousands of our people who rely for survival on subsistence farming.

The quality and quantity of water generated in Lesotho’s wetlands will decline overtime, ultimately impacting the volume of water Lesotho has for domestic consumption and for export. Land degradation, soil erosion and bad land management practices can only worsen this situation.

Another challenge we have had over the years is that Lesotho has failed to tap and realise the potential economic returns on the existing positive investment environment. The Government of Lesotho maintains a strong commitment to private investment and is generally open to Foreign Direct Investment. The Government of Lesotho welcomes foreign direct investments that:

1. Create jobs and opens new markets and industries in accordance with the national objective of diversifying Lesotho’s industrial base;

2. Improve skills and productivity of the workforce and nurtures local business suppliers and partners;

3. Support knowledge and technology transfer and diffusion and

4. Improve the quality and accessibility of infrastructure.

The following are potential investment sectors in Lesotho:

1. RENEWABLE ENERGY which includes Hydro power, Wind energy and solar energy

2. AGRO INDUSTRY which includes crop farming, aquaculture, livestock farming, and horticulture,

3. MANUFACTURING which includes textile and garments industry, leather and footwear, consumer electrical and electronic appliances, packaging materials and accessories and automotive components

4. INFRASTRUCTURE AND CONSTRUCTION which includes opportunities in the development of commercial and industrial property development, opportunities in Information and Communication Technology particularly the development of a shared broad band infrastructure company to support the Information and Communication Technology services industry and opportunities in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project

5. MINING which includes diamond mining and sandstone quarrying and water bottling

6. TOURSIM which includes accommodation facilities, Health and wellness resorts, water and sports recreation and high altitude training facilities.

I call on our investors and friends to visit, explore and invest in this beautiful country.

Your Majesty, It is against this backdrop that Your new Government is assuming the responsibility to preside over the affairs of Lesotho’s public service, to deliver public goods and services, and to enable the realization of the fundamental human rights of every Mosotho.

Your new Government is, on the one hand, facing the critical challenge of addressing inclusive growth and providing access to quality services for all; while at the same time operating in a difficult economic situation and highly fragile climatic conditions on the other.

Your new Government is confronted with the critical challenge of having to move Lesotho from a growth model that depends almost entirely on the public sector, to one that is driven by a strong and competitive private sector, that is export oriented.

As Lesotho pursues this new growth model, the importance of expediting ongoing National Reforms cannot be overemphasized. Lesotho’s journey towards peace, political stability and tolerance has improved over the years following the resolution of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Double Troika Summit held on 24 April, 2018 in Luanda Angola. I thank you, your

Excellency President Ramaphosa and your right hand man – the leader of the mediation team retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke for your commendable efforts in leading and guiding our national dialogue and reform agenda.

I promise to expedite the successful completion of the national agenda a journey towards the LESOTHO WE WANT.
Your Majesty,

Your new Government has to fix the imbalances mentioned earlier and achieve macroeconomic stability. It has to reform the public service to make it more efficient, transparent, accountable and effective.

We have to uproot corruption and stop the rampant embezzlement of public funds.

These things have to be done in order to restore the hope of our people, and to solicit their buy-in as we prepare to launch our country on to new horizons, and higher and more ambitious levels of development.

I promise that I will spearhead the process to right our country’s historical wrongs and make Lesotho great again.

We are equal to this task, and we will not be found wanting. It would be naive of me if I were to imagine that the road ahead will be smooth. Certainly not. But change is a binding imperative in our present situation.

The absence of a rigorous system of monitoring and evaluation can easily foster a culture of impunity, in which there are no consequences for poor performance and wrong-doing.

The new Government will increase accountability in the public sector by creating a system in which performance, expected of all public officers, will be transparently stated and reported upon; and there will be social engagement around what performance has been achieved and what services have actually been delivered.

Under my leadership, Your Majesty, Your Government will pursue the following key strategic goals as already outlined in the second national strategic development plan:

1. Enhance inclusive and sustainable economic growth and private sector job creation;

2. Strengthen the human capital;

3. Build an enabling infrastructure;

4. Strengthen national governance and accountability systems for improved service delivery;

5. Strengthen climate risk management resilience and adaptation; and

6. Strengthen public financial management.

Our ability to achieve these six strategic goals will be largely dependent on the actions which Government will take in the first 100 days of its tenure.

I therefore, take this opportunity, Government Secretary, to turn to you, and to publicly instruct you that, over and above your duties as spelt out in Section 12 of the Public Service Act of 2005, and Section 97 of the Constitution, and while you will work with, and through all the relevant government and non-governmental offices, you should roll out the following 20-point programme in the first 100 days of our tenure:

1. Prepare my performance contract and those of Honourable Ministers and ensure that they are signed in 30 days. Then make those contracts public.

2. Prepare and sign performance contracts with Principal Secretaries in 30 days, and make those contracts public.

3. Develop tools and a standardised system of performance reporting and reflection for the whole of government, including District Administrators and Local Authorities in the first 100 days.

4. Develop a system through which citizens can monitor and report on the performance of the public sector and through which their inputs can be recorded and responded to, in the first 100 days.

5. Use appropriate public service legislation and policies and deploy relevant public officials to the authority of District Administrators, and District, Urban and Community Councils in 100 days, and make sure that District Administrators and Councils are accountable for the government’s programme of action and service delivery in their respective districts.

6. Develop and implement a plan to cut unnecessary government spending on fleet management and fuel consumption in the first 100 days.

7. Develop a plan of how government should capacitate the Institution of Chieftainship for improved service delivery, accountability and good governance, targeting chiefs who serve their communities on a daily basis for twenty-four hours.

8. In 100 days take stock of all government vehicles, rationalise them and provide each local authority in Lesotho with at least one vehicle to enable them to conduct the business of government.

9. In 30 days, provide a report on budget monitoring for all ongoing capital projects. The reports should clearly state what projects should be closed down, which should continue and which should be redesigned for maximum impact.

10. Develop a plan for improving aid and donor coordination and organise a meeting for my office with all partners and donors in 10 days.

11. Pay outstanding allowances for all village health workers in 100 days.

12. Develop a reporting plan for all state-owned enterprises in 30 days and make the reporting plan public.

13. Organise a meeting between my office and all District Administrators and Council Chairpersons in 10 days.

14. Organise a meeting between my office and all Media Institutions in Lesotho and Civil Society Organisations in 15 days.

15. Take action on the M6.1 billion indicated in the Auditor General’s queries and make the action public in 15 days.

16. Develop, publish and implement a crime control programme in the first 15 days.

17. Establish and publicise a corruption, theft and embezzlement amnesty programme in 30 days.

18. In 30 days prepare a report on all companies in which Government has shares, explaining which companies are paying their due dividends and which are not and why.

19. In 30 days prepare a list of all people who are owed money by Government and make your recommendations accordingly.

20. In 60 days identify all areas of public financial wastage and make your recommendations accordingly.

Sechaba sa heso, ha ke ntse ke pota naha ena ke iketa ho lona, ke ile ka le bolella hore rona koana khoebong mo re tsoang teng, re phela feela ka bophethahatsi. Ha ke etsa tjena, e s’e le ha ke qalile.

Ke lumela ka tieo hore ofisi ea Mongoli e Moholo oa ’Muso e tla nthusa ka litaba tsena tseo ke li kopileng, e le hore ke tle ke tsebe ho tla boela ke hlaha kapel’a lona ho le hlalosetsa hore na re se re le hakae phethahatsong ea litšepiso tsa rona ho lona.

Ke ipiletsa ka matla ho lona Bahlanka ba sechaba hore le mpe le thuse Mongoli e Moholo oa ’Muso hore a thethe tšebetso ena; etsoe ’nete e le lona matsoho ao a sebetsang ka ’ona makaleng ka ho fapana. Ke ipiletsa le ho lona sechaba sa heso hore moo le koptjoang ho etsa tlatsetso, le etse joalo, e le ho re thusa ho phethahatsa mosebetsi; etsoe lintho tsena li reretsoe ho ntlafatsa bophelo ba lona le ba bana ba lona.

Ke ipiletsa le ho Basotho ba sebetsang le ho lula linaheng tse ling hore shebang hantle beng ba ka, le bone menyetla eo le ka e fumanang ea ho khutlela hae le tl’o re thusa ka litsebo tsa lona ho ntlafatsa naha ena ea habo rona. Motletlehi Moshoeshoe oa Bobeli o ne a ee are, “Mphe- mphe ea lapisa, molekane. Motho o khonoa ke sa ntlo ea hae.” Khomo e oetse. Tlohong re tl’o bona hore na re kopanyang matsoho joang ho e nyolla.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Over the years our country has benefitted generously from our development partners, who have always been willing to part with the little that they had to assist us in our developments efforts.

We are truly thankful; and we request you not to lose heart; seeing that some of you have been with us for many years, without realising the achievements that you expected. We are getting there. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

And in this connection, please allow me to acknowledge with sincere appreciation the presence in this ceremony of the Presidential delegation from the United States, led by the MCC Chief Executive Officer, Her Excellency Ms. Alice Albright. We view the presence of this delegation here as recognition by the US Government of the smooth transfer of political power here in Lesotho.

It remains for me now to express my hearty gratitude to our esteemed visitors from outside our borders, who have come from far and near, and have found time in their busy schedules, to honour and grace this occasion with their valuable presence.

We thank you, Excellencies. We hope you have enjoyed the warm hospitality of our people, and that this will not be the last time that you come to visit our beautiful Kingdom in the sky.

We bid you bon voyage as you return to your countries.

Basotho ba heso, kea le leboha ha le tlile ka bongata bona ho tla fetoha lipaki ha mohlanka oa lona a amohela lesokoana la puso. Lea bona hore litheko tsa rona le bana bo-mpato’a ka li teteane; re entse tlama-thata.

Ha re na ho le phoqa. Re tla lula re ntse re kopane ka linako tsohle; ’me re tla le sebeletsa ka botšepehi le ka boitelo. Ke le kopa hore le re rapelle ka linako tsohle; ’me moo ho lumellahang le etse tlatsetso ka litsela tsohle tseo le ka tlatsetsang ka tsona; etsoe letšoele le beta poho.

Tsamaeang ka khotso, sechaba sa heso, le khutlele metseng le metsaneng ea lona. Molimo o matla ’ohle O le pepe ho ea finyella malapeng a lona.


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Who will speak on behalf of Basotho?



A clash was reported to have taken place a few weeks ago between police officers, on the one hand, and an MP and his bodyguards, on the other, was always inevitable. It is a direct result of arrangements where people we have lent power to represent us in Parliament now use that power to come up with schemes by which they and their bodyguards should be exempted from equal treatment, and be treated differently from the rest us.

This conduct is anti-seMohlomi, and anti-seMoshoeshoe. And so are many other behaviours we have seen perpetrated by our MPs.

We can expect that those who behave this way will not stop at violation of road traffic laws but will go on to carry contraband in ‘MP’ registered vehicles, and claim exemption from police searches when confronted by the police.
The principle of ‘equality before the law’, and the principle that we should all be treated the same, is a fundamental requirement for the maintenance of social order. MPs who ignore, or violate, it are sources of social disorder. Such MPs have to be regarded as enemies of social order in Lesotho. They should bear in mind that they are opposing society when they oppose the police’s attempts to enforce the law.

We should all obey traffic laws. And, we should all stand in long queues for poor services at the Passport and Traffic Offices. Otherwise, if those we have voted into power use that power to exempt themselves and their bodyguards from poor public services, MPs will have no incentive and interest to work for improved quality of public service.
The failure by MPs and governments to address problems of poor public services is an important reason why everyday many Basotho cross into South Africa in search of better education, better medical services, and lower prices of basic necessities. That traffic includes cars which bear red registration numbers ferrying Lesotho public officials to South Africa for better services.

As always, MPs, Ministers, and other public servants will probably be exempted, or expect to be exempted, from the torment that comes with the new customs regime agreed by Revenue Services (SARS) and Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), and implemented at RSA-Lesotho border posts. Exemption of officials and MPs will mean that they will have no interest, nor incentive, to lessen its toll on Basotho.
The new regime started early in August 2023. To educate travellers about it, the RSL staff at the Maseru border have been giving people leaflets that explain the new procedures.

Even before this new regime, and others that came before it, many people have always been suspicious that a lot of what people who enter Lesotho go through is not in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Agreement. For example, it is known that the Agreement is supposed to ensure that citizens of SACU member-countries do not pay tax on a similar item in more than one SACU country. In other words, citizens of SACU member-states should not be taxed twice, or more, for the same item within the SACU area.

But because of the bureaucracy that has been imposed on customs processes at the Lesotho-South Africa borders, many people fall victim to some bureaucratic detail, or other, and end up paying tax in South Africa and Lesotho for a similar item, or service.
In the new regime agreed by RSL and SARS, RSL officials tell us that we are supposed to stamp all receipts of value of M250, and above, at SARS. They say this while distributing a leaflet that says the threshold is M10 000.

For the M250 receipt to be stamped, you need to submit to SARS copies of pages of your passport showing your address in Lesotho, and showing dates on which you travelled to and from South Africa. The implication of this is that if you carry a South African passport you cannot bring groceries into Lesotho for reasons including the fact that Lesotho government cannot claim tax from South Africa on such goods. It is unclear what will happen to a South African tourists coming to Lesotho who might be refused permission to enter with their food.

As said, the requirement that we should stamp M250 receipts at SARS is not on the leaflet RSL officials are giving to travellers. Extraordinarily, RSL officials admit this.
So, at the expense of our time, and standing in receipt-stamping queues that will inevitably grow longer and longer, we are being forced to adhere to a requirement which is nowhere in the official papers.

Has the new regime been negotiated and agreed to by RSL officials alone, or is the government aware of the unreasonable measures that we have to comply with?
It must be said that, at least, for now, the RSL staff remain very helpful, and seem to acknowledge that requirements they are expected to enforce are unreasonable.
It seems nobody thinks of us when government and officials agree to onerous customs measures at our border posts. In part this is because, again, those we have lent power to represent us use that power to exempt themselves onerous procedures that they negotiate and agree to.
We need people who think of us when they negotiate customs and other agreements. Basotho need somebody who can speak on their behalf.

Prof Motlatsi Thabane

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Developing close reading skills



One of the most important skills in adeptly dealing with comprehension-related questions lies in your acquisition and refining close-reading competencies and strategies. The word comprehend means to understand, to fully grasp the essence of a text. When you comprehend a text you will take in, as it were, all the elements of a text, you nibble in, to speak using metaphors, your teeth into the heart of the text. You savour the text, immersing yourself in the texture of the text.

Close-reading involves deep observation and critical analysis of a text or comprehension passage. Close-reading strategies demands that the reader of a text pick even the salient nuances of a text, he or she must take in all the hues and details of a text which are not mentioned directly in the text. This skill takes time to hone, but with constant practice and hard work, it can be done. Let’s do that in a practical way. We are going to focus on a very small extract depicting how one aspiring ironman trained rigorously to realise his dream and the social and emotional toll the training exerted on the man and his family and how, finally he won, much to the happiness and excitement of his family. Here is the extract, as you read, please focus on the use of language to create meaning and effect. Let’s try to discern the feelings of the writer when her husband, eventually became an ironman.

“Because it’s there,’ I’d snarl to anyone who dared question why any sane mortal would tackle an Ironman. I enjoyed mercilessly shaming his less-than-supportive business partner into recognising the potentially boundless benefits of Sam’s well-publicised adventure for their newly-established, fledgling travel company. A flurry of online articles described me as ‘a runner married to a triathlete’ – it took me a few moments to recognise our family and beam with immeasurable pride.
Our son missed having Dad around at the weekends, especially if he woke up after Sam had left to train on a Saturday when sometimes there were tears. But he got used to the different dynamic. He was given an ‘Ironman’ superhero toy as a birthday gift by some relatives and immediately started making it swim, bike and run! The poor child thinks that this is how normal families operate.

Having said all that, watching Sam emerge god-like from the water, power past us on his bike and rocket down the finishing chute, head held high as our kids cheered with the crowd – utterly incredible and intoxicating, one of life’s rare pinnacles of perfection. It had been an epic journey for all of us. I’m so glad we did it. And next year? Well yes, it’s my turn.”

Have you seen how this extract is written in a very captivating way; it colourfully depicts the writer’s feelings of extreme excitement and euphoria when Sam completed the race successfully. The words, “having said all that” are colourful and conclusive. Before these words were uttered, the narrator was expressing her dissatisfaction about Sam’s involvement in sport and how demanding it was emotionally, physically and financially. But, now, the words show that the success overwhelmed even the sentiments or expressions of dissatisfaction registered earlier. One can also see that the writer is overwhelmed by pride and celebration at the success of her husband and she and the entire crowd were immersed in an “intoxicating” experience. Beer intoxicates, so the writer uses this word as a word picture to graphically show the intensity and pervasive nature of the happiness generated by Sam’s victory — it is as if they were overdrunk with the sense of success and accomplishment. Sam’s win evoked all those rare moments in life when all seems to be perfect and in its place; that is why the writer used the words, “life’s rare pinnacles of perfection” just to express that.

Have you also noticed how the writer uses a lot of word pictures to describe her reactions about people’s views regarding her husband’s involvement in the ironman race? One such word, a word picture is “flurry.” The word explains the immensity as well as the amount of excitement and frenzy of publicity generated by Sam’s attempt to be the iron man. This word is apt in describing the writer’s admiration for her husband’s feat and the publicity and excitement generated.
Let’s now focus on another text, let’s focus on how the extract reveals why people hate snakes as a result of the misconceptions they have about them. But notice how the writer arguably writes to endear us to the world of snakes and some of their very positive attributes. Let’s nibble at the text of the extract.

“In the United States, for example, public outcry based on fear and misinformation recently halted a scientifically sound conservation plan for timber rattlesnakes. Another project at the same location that involved releasing eagles was embraced by the community. Rattlesnakes are no less important than eagles. In fact, they may help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease, which affects thousands of people each year, by reducing the number of rodents that harbour this disease. But emotions override facts, it seems, where snakes are concerned. Snakes play an integral role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem – in most ecosystems on earth, snakes can be both predator and prey. When a large prey-population attracts and sustains a large snake population, those snakes become prey for birds, mammals and even other snakes! As predators, snakes keep prey-populations in balance. Snakes provide an easy, environmentally friendly, free and natural pest-control service. But snakes are worth saving not because of what they can do for us, but because of who they are. Snakes share many behaviours with us, behaviours we value. They have friends. They take care of their kids and even their friends’ kids too. Want to help us change how people view and treat snakes? Visit the World Snake Day website.”

While you were still reading, I hope you saw that this is a really captivating text. It focuses on the misconceptions and lack of information we have about snakes, which information gaps lead us into hating snakes without reason. True, snakes are predatory but they also serve an important function in balancing the ecological balance.

Snakes are not that bad, too; and like us humans, they make friends, protect their young ones and the young ones of their friends. Pretty amazing to learn that snakes, too, have friends.

So the point is that there are a lot of falsehoods and misconceptions about snakes and their true habits and functions within the ecological sphere. Often times, they are shown to be cruel, bloody predators that kill in cold-blood. But snakes are also victims from birth and other creatures. Snakes are a natural means to curb diseases which are brought about by rodents. Thus, snakes help in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Snakes are relational and friendly.
Let’s now hone close-reading skills a little more. In the following extract, the writer beautifully describes her experiences of meeting snakes in their natural habitats in the rainforest and her excitement of seeing quite an exciting array of species. As you read, focus on the writer’s reaction to what she saw and how she is alive to the beautiful scenery around her and she captures that.

“Three hours later, returning from the trek, I felt bubbles of amazement and wonder rising. I’d seen gliding lizards fly effortlessly between trees, intricate dragonflies of infinite varieties and delicately etched, golden frogs. The overcast sky, saturated to the brim, had poured down heavily, drenching the forest, its native creatures, and the handful of humans who happened to be there. Thereafter began the frenzy of activities and sounds that engulfs the woods after a good rain – rhythmic sounds, musical, coordinated and orchestrated, and pleasantly deafening. Ah! My brimming heart and soothed soul enjoyed restful sleep in the tent that first night. Bonfires and loud music are prohibited to avoid any disturbance to animals and hygienic common bathrooms (with hot-water facilities) were appreciated. Everyone was expected to wash their own plates and glasses after every meal. We were encouraged to separate organic waste into the respective dustbins before retiring each night. All inorganic waste went back with you.”

You have picked words which convey meaning so aptly and beautifully. I liked the expression and the choice of words. The phrase, “bubbles of amazement” is so colourful and this is a word picture which shows or reflects the intensity of the writer’s excitement and frenzy at experiencing the tranquil and pleasant experience of being in a rainforest teeming with a vast array of species.

Here we are! Mastering close reading skills is a journey, but an exciting one, which allows you to immerse yourself in the text and allows you to feel all the juicy aspects of the text, as it were.

 Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to:

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The significance of BRICS for the African continent



In the pioneering work titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs” (Global Economics Paper No: 66), Lord Jim O’Neill, then Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, introduced the term BRICs, referring to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These nations’ economies were experiencing rapid growth, fuelling discussions about their potential to collectively shape the global economy by 2050. In the spirit of this vision, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China convened for the first time in July 2006, on the sidelines of the G8 Outreach Summit in St Petersburg, Russia. This marked a pivotal moment in cementing the idea of forming a consortium of burgeoning economies.

Subsequently, the Foreign Ministers of these countries assembled in New York City in 2006 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and embraced the term “BRIC” as originally coined by Lord Jim O’Neill. On June 16, 2009, the inaugural ‘BRIC’ Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Later, South Africa was granted full membership in September 2010 during a BRIC Foreign Ministers meeting on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. This led to the alteration of the acronym to BRICS. Building on this progress, South Africa participated in the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, on April 14, 2011.

BRICS is firmly anchored in the principles of mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusivity, consensus, and strengthened collaboration. The foundation of BRICS rests upon three pivotal pillars: political and security cooperation, financial and economic collaboration, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These pillars serve as a robust framework for guiding the alliance’s interactions and ensuring its enduring viability. This sentiment is particularly pronounced as the 15th BRICS Summit, slated for August 22-24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, convenes under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”

Drawing from the World Bank data from 2022, the combined population of the five BRICS nations stands at 3.27 billion, constituting 41.1% of the global population. These countries’ cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2022 is valued at 25.92 trillion, accounting for 25.8% of the world’s GDP. In contrast, Africa’s total population across its 55 countries is estimated at 1.4 billion, representing 17.5% of the global population. Africa’s overall GDP amounts to approximately US$3.0 trillion, contributing 2.7% to the global GDP.

The African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook for 2023, underscores Africa’s abundant natural resources — oil, gas, minerals, land, sunlight, wind, and biodiversity —whose potential remains largely untapped and undervalued. The report highlights Africa’s trillion-dollar investment potential in the climate and green growth sectors, offering a promising avenue for private sector involvement.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) BRICS Investment Report for 2023 reveals that the BRICS economies collectively account for 18% of global exports and approximately $250 billion in foreign direct investment outflows. Notably, the BRICS nations have emerged as significant investors in Africa, with a particular focus on industrial and service sectors, as confirmed by the Africa Development Bank’s Briefing Note titled “Africa and the BRICS: A Win-Win Partnership?” (2003).
Moreover, the BRICS countries have expanded their presence on the continent in terms of foreign direct investment, outpacing traditional partners such as the United States and Europe. This emphasis on harnessing natural resources and boosting agricultural production is also underscored by the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Report “BRICS/Africa Partnership for Development” (2014).

Leveraging their substantial economic potential, the BRICS nations are optimally positioned to support Africa’s aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063. These countries play a pivotal role in driving investments in natural resource beneficiation, manufacturing, and industrialisation across the continent. They also provide strategic impetus for enhancing productivity and competitiveness, especially within the agricultural sector, through consistent investment efforts.
The emergence of the BRICS New Development Bank offers an alternative to the Western-dominated multilateral financial institutions, which have historically contributed to Africa’s infrastructure development at a gradual pace. This bank holds the promise of financing comprehensive infrastructure projects across the continent, thereby enhancing connectivity through rail, maritime, air routes, and information and communication technology — an aspiration cherished by the African populace.

A symbiotic partnership between Africa and BRICS has the potential to elevate Africa’s status as a significant player on the global stage. This partnership extends to bolstering Africa’s role in global governance structures, including institutions like the United Nations and Multilateral Financial Institutions. The expansion of BRICS to encompass additional nations, including those from Africa, is poised to inspire African countries to assume greater responsibility for funding their sustainable development endeavours.

This approach empowers African nations to form alliances with developed countries that squarely address the continent’s priorities for sustainable growth and economic transformation. Most notably, the BRICS initiative lays the foundation for a multipolar world, contrasting the prevailing unipolar influence exerted by the US and the G7 countries (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, UK, and the US). This envisioned multipolar world rests on principles such as mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusiveness, consensus, and fortified collaborations. The International Monetary Fund, Economic Outlook (April, 2023) reveals that the population of the G7 countries is around 776.55 million representing 9.7% of the global population. The GDP for the G7 countries is around US$42.92 trillion representing around 30% of the world GDP.
In a recent interview with Africa Business in June 2023, Lord Jim O’Neill, the visionary behind BRICS, shared his perspective on the future of BRICS and its implications for Africa. He astutely remarked, “the notion that the group of seven ‘industrialised’ or ‘more developed’ or ‘early developed’ (G7) nations can single-handedly govern the world is disconcerting, given their diminishing share of the global GDP. Moreover, the G7 often finds itself aligned with the desires of Washington (US). How then can these select few address the world’s most pressing challenges? This predicament highlights the raison d’être behind my conception of BRICS: to advocate for a more effective global governance model than what the G7 offers.”

It is for these reasons that the enduring partnership between Africa and BRICS embodies a shared commitment to sustainable development, economic growth, and the transformation of global governance structures. The collaborative approach rooted in mutual benefit, respect, and a multi-polar perspective has the potential to reshape the global landscape, ensuring a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.

Advocate Batlokoa Makong is a seasoned diplomat currently working for the African Union. He writes in his personal capacity.

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